To my mind

Finweek English Edition - - Inside - COLLEEN NAUDÉ

FOL­LOW­ING THE PAST two weeks’ mas­sive down­pours, the gap­ing pot­holes that have trans­formed reg­u­lar car trips in and around Jo­han­nes­burg into an off-road ob­sta­cle course have be­come an even more pop­u­lar topic than the car­nage on the mar­kets. Though there’s con­sen­sus among an­a­lysts about the causes of the car­nage – most blame falls on the world’s largest economies – not even the 2 500 del­e­gates to the re­cent World Eco­nomic Fo­rum in Davos could of­fer ad­vice on how to turn this dis­mal state of af­fairs around.

But in South Africa we have peo­ple like Gwede Man­tashe, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the ANC, who not only de­lin­eates cer­tain prob­lems with which this coun­try is grap­pling but also de­clares how the ANC is go­ing to solve said prob­lems af­ter the elec­tion. Thus far, pre­cious lit­tle pro­vi­sion has been made for main­te­nance, Man­tashe in­formed a group of me­dia peo­ple this week. The state of in­fra­struc­ture, such as the rail­ways and trans­port, is im­por­tant to the ANC, he as­sured them. Like­wise, man­age­ment of SA’s wa­ter sup­ply.

Not a word about the ANC’s in­abil­ity to spend main­te­nance and other bud­get al­lo­ca­tions, or about the mo­not­o­nous reg­u­lar­ity with which most Gov­ern­ment de­part­ments are the sub­jects of qual­i­fied au­dits. Nor the fact that the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of wa­ter sources – which has al­ready made cholera a bleak re­al­ity – has been tak­ing place un­der su­per­vi­sion of the very same ANC which, af­ter the elec­tion, is go­ing to re­move pot­holes on the road to wealth for all.

About this coun­try’s eco­nomic prospects, Man­tashe also has no mis­giv­ings. Without minc­ing words, he re­as­sured any doubt­ing Thomases that SA would weather the cur­rent global eco­nomic storm and would cer­tainly not ex­pe­ri­ence neg­a­tive growth. Would that the count­less economists strug­gling with pre­dic­tions about SA’s econ­omy had his sort of ab­so­lute cer­tainty and fi­nan­cial in­sight!

Inflation tar­gets, said Man­tashe, can’t be al­lowed to stand in the way of this coun­try’s de­vel­op­men­tal needs. One would have ex­pected a more cir­cum­spect ap­proach amid the inflation fi­asco of around hun­dreds of mil­lions per­cent which has al­ready wiped out most of Zim­babwe’s econ­omy.

Crit­i­cism about ANC cadres’ ap­point­ment to se­nior pub­lic ser­vice posts he dis­missed with a com­par­i­son to the United States, where all Bush sup­port­ers were ousted fol­low­ing Barack Obama’s Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion victory. How­ever, com­par­isons with Amer­ica’s new leader are grossly in­ap­pro­pri­ate – not only be­cause of Obama’s ap­point­ment of Repub­li­cans to key posts but es­pe­cially since Ja­cob Zuma, the ANC’s pres­i­den­tial can­di­date – whose praises were again sung by Man­tashe on the eve of his 38th court ap­pear­ance – is so clearly Obama’s in­fe­rior in all spheres: es­pe­cially in­tel­lec­tu­ally, morally and as a states­man.

Faced with such a de­press­ing con­trast one clutches at any avail­able straw – such as the East­ern Cape High Court ver­dict, which has de­clared the ANC’s nepo­tism il­le­gal. Per­haps it could help some key pub­lic ser­vice posts be filled ac­cord­ing to merit, which would some­what in­crease the pos­si­bil­ity of pro­vid­ing ef­fec­tive ser­vice.

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